The vote on a motion to suspend the Israel Football Association from FIFA didn’t end up happening at the organization’s congress today in Zurich, much to the relief of newly re-elected FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
When it was time to address the Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel’s membership with FIFA, the Palestinian Football Association decided to withdraw the motion. Jibril Rajoub, head of the PFA, addressed the decision by announcing to the congress that “he wanted to find a ‘responsible solution’ to the issue, as opposed to ‘scoring points,’” Arutz Sheva reported.
“I have decided to drop the suspension but it does not mean I give up resistance according to statutes,” Rajoub said. “It is time to raise to red card to racism. In Palestine and everywhere.”
Rajoub’s decision on the motion, which he’s raised three years running, was, in fact, political. As I reported yesterday:
Rajoub’s motivation for pushing the appeal this year stems from the negative impact Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has had on Palestinian soccer. “Palestinian players often cannot travel between Gaza and the West Bank for training camps or practices, a result of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, under Hamas’s control, which began in 2007,” reports Vice.
Aside from the restrictions on Palestinian player movements in and out of the Gaza Strip, the PFA also claims that “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment have been held at the border for inspection past the time it was to be used for matches.”
But Israel offered four concessions to address Rajoub’s contentions, and it appears to have worked.
Today, Rajoub requested that a committee be immediately set up “to ensure his requests are met concerning Israel’s regulation of movement by Palestinian soccer players,” reports The Jerusalem Post.
The new proposal was accepted by Blatter, whose heads the governing body for soccer worldwide that is embroiled in a scandal, on the condition that the committee convene at a later date. The watered-down proposal was eventually agreed upon in the form of a decidedly uneasy handshake between Rajoub and the president of the Israeli Football Association, Ofer Eini.
It “doesn’t look like anyone is very happy with the result,” The Independent commented.
The handshake brought to a close a tense and chaotic turn of events at the congress. Earlier in the day, two pro-Palestinian female protesters “interrupted president Sepp Blatter’s opening address, waving red cards at FIFA representatives and chanting “Israel out!” before being escorted out of the hall by security guards,” The Times of Israel reported.
According to The Independent, the FIFA congress also had to have an extended lunch break because of the Zurich police’s receipt of a bomb threat at the venue: “The early and extended hour and a half lunch break was caused by the bomb threat, during which time the premises was searched and ultimately cleared for use.”